Governor Signs New Laws Impacting Rental Housing & Businesses

Legislative Updates,

Governor Newsom recently signed several rental housing and business-related bills into law. The laws take effect January 1 unless otherwise specified. Learn more about these new laws below.

AB 1738 (Boerner Horvath) – EV Charging Stations

AB 1738 requires mandatory building standards for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations within existing multifamily dwellings, hotels, and motels. While a direct mandate as introduced, SCRHA opposition caused the author to amend slightly to require the state to research and develop mandatory installation standards for future adoption, likely meaning costly retrofits for rental properties at some point.

AB 2559 (Ward) – Reusable Screening Reports

As introduced, the bill created a process for acceptance by a landlord of a “reusable tenant screening report.” However, the bill was unclear as to whether it was voluntary.  However, the author has amended the bill making clear that AB 2559 is voluntary and encourages tenants to post the reusable screening report to an independent third party on-line. The amendments eliminate notice requirements on the part of the landlord as well. 

SB 1017 (Eggman) – Domestic Violence  

This bill makes a landlord or agent liable to the tenant for actual damages and statutory damages of not less than $100 and not more than $5,000 in a civil action for violation of existing domestic violence laws. This bill also prohibits a landlord from terminating or failing to renew a tenancy based on an act of abuse or violence against a tenant, a tenant’s immediate family member or a tenant’s household member. The bill would make a landlord’s violation of those provisions an affirmative defense to a cause of action for unlawful detainer that is based upon an act of abuse or violence against a tenant, a tenant’s immediate family member, or a tenant’s household member.

SB 1477 (Wieckowski) – Enforcement of judgments: wage garnishment

SB 1477 will slash the allowable wage garnishment to 0% for $24.38/hr. or less wage earners, needlessly exempting them from any wage garnishment, and making them judgment proof. In $17/hr. minimum wage localities, $27.63/hr. wage earners would be completely exempt. This exemption is not need-based and would apply to all debtors based on individual pay, no questions asked. This exemption would apply to high-income tenants, including those tenants who did not pay the rent and who refused to apply for state assistance. 

AB 2188 (Quirk) – Discrimination in employment: use of cannabis

This bill, on and after January 1, 2024, will make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize a person, if the discrimination is based upon the person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace, except for preemployment drug screening, as specified, or upon an employer-required drug screening test that has found the person to have nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites in their hair, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids. The bill exempts certain applicants and employees from the bill’s provisions, including employees in the building and construction trades and applicants and employees in positions requiring a federal background investigation or clearance.

AB 1949 (Low) – Employees: bereavement leave

Requires private employers with five or more employees and public sector employers to provide employees with at least 30 days of service up to five unpaid days of bereavement leave upon the death of a family member. If an employer has an existing leave policy providing for less than five days of paid bereavement leave, the employee shall be entitled to no less than a total of five days of bereavement leave, consisting of the number of days of paid leave under the existing policy, and the remainder of days of leave may be, but are not required to be, unpaid.

Accessory Dwelling Units

SCRHA supported AB 916 (Salas), a bill sponsored by our statewide partner, CalRHA, as well as two other Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) bills, SB 897 (Wieckowski) and AB 2221 (Quirk Silva). The bills will help streamline the ADU approval process. 

Use of the Term Landlord

SCRHA supported a bill sponsored by our sister association in Orange County that seeks to address the use of the term "landlord" in state code. AB 2503 (Garcia), if signed by the Governor, will require the California Law Revision Commission to, on or before December 31, 2024, deliver to the Legislature a study regarding the establishment of consistent terminology across the California codes to describe the parties to an agreement, lease, or other contract for the rental of residential real property.